Yes, “Yours is No Disgrace” from The Yes Album (1971): YESterdays

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After two albums, Yes decided a change in direction was needed. With the ouster of founding member Peter Banks after 1970’s Time and a Word and the addition of guitar virtuoso Steve Howe, the band found the right chemistry.

In the fall of 1970, Yes went into Advision Studios with producer Eddie Offord (engineer on Time and a Word) to record what would become The Yes Album. The project begins with “Yours is No Disgrace,” which contains many elements which make Yes the world’s greatest progressive rock band.

Very much a whole group effort, “Yours is No Disgrace” features songwriting credit for all members. Indeed, while Yes fully embraced cover songs on the first two albums, they avoided them for this rebirth. Jon Anderson provided some of his most visual, yet compact lyrics up until that time on “Yours is No Disgrace.” Believed to be Yes’ first anti-war song, it conjures images of children entangled in a conflict of their parents.

<<< BACKWARD (“Time and a Word”) ||| ONWARD (“Clap”) >>>

Musically, “Yours is No Disgrace” jumps out of the speaker. With the blend of Bill Bruford’s snare drum, Steve Howe’s Gibson ES175 and Chris Squire’s Rickenbacker bass blasting off in stiletto harmony. Tony Kaye’s husky Hammond organ joins the march, then gives way to a Moog synthesizer break. Howe comes back with a fleet-fingered lead passage, which is supported by a moving, trebly bass run and snare-centered shuffle. Amazingly, “Yours is No Disgrace” takes the band to a new musical height and a not a word has been sung.

When Jon Anderson and the chorus of Chris Squire with Steve Howe come in with the first verse, you can’t help but believe this is how Yes was meant to sound. Eddie Offord’s mix verges on perfection, allowing each voice and instrument to be separate and distinctive yet not out of place. Chris Squire’s bass sound is like nothing else in rock, and keeps the song galloping along with Bill Bruford’s unique rhythmic contributions. Squire goes into a jazz-like bass walk, before another vocal break down.

Many bands would quit while they were ahead, but Yes forges on with an additional solo section and verse. The solo section deserves special mention, as Steve Howe evokes jazz and psychedelic elements in his Gibson-driven solo. His use of the volume pedal and distortion adds an additional element to the solo, and the section could be an entire song in itself. A Hammond/Moog-propelled final verse is added and before you know it almost 10:00 minutes has passed.

“Yours is No Disgrace” is a classic, and just one on several on The Yes Album.

Preston Frazier’s YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the unforgettable musical legacy of Yes. The series runs every other Tuesday.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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  • Brian Sullivan

    Don’t forget Howe playing the strings between the bridge and the tailpiece for a percussive effect. That’s using all of the guitar!

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